Topic: Groundwater



Unlike California’s majestic rivers and massive dams and conveyance systems, groundwater is out of sight and underground, though no less plentiful. The state’s enormous cache of underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and leader in high-tech industries.

Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply comes from groundwater.

A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

County’s fracking lawsuit also targets other oilfield regulatory actions

The lawsuit Kern County filed this week against Gov. Gavin Newsom is aimed at not only ending his de-facto ban on fracking but also at easing state regulatory constraints on at least two other oilfield techniques common locally. As part of its larger argument that the Newsom administration has overstepped its constitutional authority, Monday’s petition for a writ of mandate in Kern County Superior Court asserts Newsom had no right in 2019 to place a moratorium on high-pressure cyclic steaming or require extensive “area of review” analyses prior to approval of underground injections.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: A holistic approach to water management in the Sacramento River basin – Ridgetop to river mouth water management

Water resources managers and the leaders in Northern California continue to advance Ridgetop to River Mouth water management … There are unique opportunities in the Sacramento River Basin to advance ridgetop to river mouth water management, which can best be envisioned by looking holistically at: 1) headwaters and forest health, 2) floodplain reactivation for public safety and fish and wildlife, 3) sustainable groundwater management (including groundwater recharge and banking), 4) healthy soils and farms; 5) safe drinking water; and 6) vital rivers and streams.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Climate change is happening right now in Colorado, here’s how

The scientific consensus is that human-caused climate change has in recent decades raised average temperatures in the West about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and nearly two full degrees on maximum temperature days, according to Matthew Lachniet, a geoscience professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The days of Coloradans putting off climate change as a worry for hurricane-ravaged Louisiana or a water-challenged Middle East now seem to be over. Following are just a few of the ways “climate change now” made its full force known in the Rocky Mountains this year and showed its impact on everyday life.

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Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette

Sierra Club threatens suit over ag land policy

A month after the Visalia City Council threw out a policy designed to prevent urban sprawl, the Sierra Club is threatening to sue the city over the change … requesting an injunction against implementation of the new policy, which does not include an ag mitigation policy (AMP). … The city attorney advised the General Plan could be “modified” due to changes in case law since 2014, such as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which could affect the availability of water to some farmland within the city’s growth boundaries.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: New opportunities for trading surface water in the Sacramento Valley under SGMA

New groundwater agencies in the Sacramento Valley are currently finalizing plans to manage their groundwater basins for long-term balance, as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Successful stewardship demands good information not only about groundwater conditions, but also about surface water availability. To help build shared understanding of surface water for agriculture—the valley’s main water-using sector—we produced a new dataset showing how access to this vital resource varies across irrigated farmland in the Sacramento Valley and the Delta. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Farmland repurposing program awaits Gov. Newsom’s OK

A bill that would have created a program to help farmers find new life for farmland idled by coming groundwater restrictions had its own phoenix moment last week in the Legislature when it was simultaneously killed and reborn — this time with money. AB 252, authored by Assemblymembers Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), died in the state Senate last week but much of its content was reborn in a budget bill with $50 million attached.

Aquafornia news Good Times Santa Cruz

As drought worsens, local agencies seek ambitious water solutions

Various climate models differ on whether our area will get slightly wetter or drier with rising temperatures. But they have one prediction in common: greater extremes.  Dry years will be drier. Rainfall could come all at once in a few large storms rather than spread across a season. … With this in mind, water managers are designing and implementing projects to capture, store and access clean water. Some irrigation for crops in the Pajaro Valley might soon come from lake water rather than groundwater. A project in Soquel will use recycled water to replenish a groundwater basin. Another project in Santa Cruz will inject excess runoff from winter storms into wells. 

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Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

One Planet: CA Democrats fail to pass climate legislation as wells dry up

About 2,700 wells across the state are projected to go dry this year. If the drought continues, 1,000 more will go dry next year. In 2014, the California Legislature enacted a package of new laws that aimed to stop groundwater over-pumping, but as CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports seven years later, little has changed for Californians relying on drinking water wells. Depletion of their groundwater continues. Pumping is largely unrestricted, and there are few, if any, protections in place.

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Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: Biden just handed a bone to big almond

To fill the post of chief agricultural negotiator at the United States Trade Representative’s office, the Biden administration dipped into California’s hot, dusty, drought-plagued San Joaquin Valley and plucked out an almond-industry lobbyist. … Biden is favoring the $6 billion almond industry at a particularly fraught time in its history. The ever-expanding groves of California’s Central Valley churn out nearly 80 percent of the globe’s almonds.
-Written by Mother Jones reporter Tom Philpott. 

Aquafornia news KQED

Central Valley farmers weigh in on California’s historic drought

Unless you have a personal connection to the Central Valley or work in agriculture, chances are you haven’t been able to speak directly to a farmer about how they’re experiencing this year’s historic drought. Recently on  KQED Forum, three farmers from the Central Valley, where roughly 40% of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts are grown, shared just how little water they have to work with, how they’re adapting, and what the drought means for their industry long term.

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Aquafornia news Daily Bulletin

Pomona wins $48 million in groundwater pollution case

A federal jury awarded the city of Pomona $48 million in damages to be paid by a foreign corporation for contaminating its groundwater with a toxic chemical mixed with fertilizer and sold to citrus farmers for decades. On Sept. 7, the city won its case against the American subsidiary of a multi-billion dollar Chilean company, Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile, known as SQM. The case, which began in 2011, bounced between courts until the city won after presenting its full argument recently in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. 

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County CA towns unable to solve drinking water crisis

The longer it takes for two new wells to be dug in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir in western Fresno County, the deeper in debt the towns are mired. Now, with the drought, those well projects are in a race against dropping groundwater levels as farmers, cut off from surface water supplies, are leaning more heavily on the aquifer. The well projects started in 2018 and aren’t scheduled to be completed until sometime next year.

Aquafornia news NOAA Climate Program Office

Study: Dry future likely unavoidable for Southwest, but reducing greenhouse gases can still help

For the past two decades, the southwestern United States has been desiccated by one of the most severe long-term droughts—or ‘megadroughts’—of the last 1,200 years. And now, scientists say the risk of similar extreme megadroughts and severe single-year droughts will increase in the future as Earth’s temperature continues to rise, according to a new study in Earth’s Future sponsored by CPO’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) program and led by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California groundwater pumping project can proceed, for now

Environmental groups failed to justify blocking the federal government from funding groundwater pumping in the Sacramento River Valley pending a preliminary injunction hearing, a federal court in California ruled. There’s no evidence that pumping will immediately occur without injunctive relief, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. And even if it did happen, there’s no evidence irreparable harm would occur between that time and the preliminary injunction hearing, Judge William B. Shubb said Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State seeks public comments on draft groundwater management principles and strategies related to drinking water well impacts

The Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board have developed draft groundwater management principles and strategies to better anticipate and minimize the impacts of drought on drinking water wells. Developed in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s April Executive Drought Proclamation, the principles and strategies provide a framework for State actions to proactively address impacts on groundwater-dependent communities as droughts become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Growers hope groundwater markets provide flexibility

Some San Joaquin Valley farmers could someday have a new “crop” to sell —  their groundwater. In the face of looming groundwater pumping restrictions, some groundwater agencies are looking at internal markets to give growers a way to save water and still earn a profit.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: San Francisco, agriculture suppliers want their water, sue state over drought restrictions

San Francisco, along with a handful of Central Valley irrigation districts, is suing the state for enacting drought restrictions that are keeping thousands of landowners and suppliers from drawing water from rivers and creeks. The lawsuit, filed late last week in Fresno County Superior Court, claims that the State Water Resources Control Board — drought or no drought — does not have the authority to suspend the draws of those with the most senior claims to California’s water.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How drought, climate change impact California almond agriculture

First came the asparagus field. Then came the melons. And now Joe Del Bosque is considering the unthinkable: tearing out a sprawling almond orchard bursting with healthy, nut-producing trees. … Two decades of almost unrelenting growth vaulted almonds into the upper ranks of California agriculture. Now, though, the state’s $6 billion-a-year industry is being humbled by a devastating drought. Farmers have slowed the pace of new orchard plantings and, in a few cases, have plowed up trees still capable of bearing almonds.

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Commission backs water district proposal

A proposed water district in northwestern Butte County won a split-vote endorsement from the Butte County Water Commission, after a lengthy public hearing. The commission voted 6-3 to recommend the Board of Supervisors support formation of the Tuscan Water District. Even though the vote was just advisory, there were two hours of public comment. When the supervisors take up the matter Sept. 14, their action will also just be advisory, as the Local Agency Formation Commission is the entity that will determine whether the district is formed.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Opinion: A test for California’s groundwater regulations in the megadrought

Record dry conditions once again in the West have led the federal and state governments to declare water supply shortages. California’s governor has declared that 50 counties, in which approximately 41% of the state’s population exists, are now under a drought state of emergency. This prompted the adoption of emergency regulations ordering water rights holders to curtail their water diversions on numerous northern California rivers.

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Aquafornia news

New research: Rare earth elements and old mines spell trouble for Western U.S. water supplies

Rare earth elements are finding their way into Colorado water supplies, driven by changes in climate, finds a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Rare earth elements are necessary components of many computing and other high-tech devices, like cell phones and hard drives. But there is growing recognition that they can be hazardous in the environment even at low levels of concentration.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study shows California groundwater quality threatened by drought

Researchers have suspected for years that drought conditions worsen groundwater quality, but a study published this week provides strong evidence proving the long-held assumption. While previous studies have focused on the risk of wells being overdrawn and run dry during drought, the study from the United States Geological Survey and the California State Water Resources Control Board is the first to directly link drought to deteriorating water quality on a regional scale. The study looked at 30 years of data from California’s Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Press-Enterprise

Proposed change at Prado Dam could yield water for 60,000 more people

Enough water for 60,000 Orange County residents can be generated by more efficient release of rainwater from the Prado Dam into the Santa Ana River, according to a new multi-agency report. During a year of average rainfall, that’s the amount of water currently flowing into the ocean that could be captured for urban use, according to the two co-chairmen of the committee overseeing project. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

How drought forced California to mandate drinking water consolidation for Tooleville

Life in Tooleville wasn’t easy before the latest drought. Residents of this tiny, two-road farmworker community, tucked into the edge of the Sierra Nevada foothills in eastern Tulare County, have been living on bottled water since 2014 because its two wells are contaminated with hexavalent chromium. Then in July, one of those wells started to dry up, thanks to plummeting groundwater levels. State Water Resources Control Board officials agree Tooleville’s other well will likely hit sand in a matter of months.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

McKee Creek restoration project breaks ground near Whitethorn

Sanctuary Forest recently broke ground on a restoration project in McKee Creek between Whitethorn and Ettersburg junctions in Southern Humboldt. The project aims to address historical logging impacts and “recharge” groundwater storages to enhance essential flows for threatened salmon species. Anna Rogers, administrative director for Sanctuary Forest, said McKee Creek was rated as a Priority 1 tributary for coho salmon recovery in the Mattole Coho Recovery Strategy based on spawning and rearing documented in the past decade.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

San Luis Valley water: Drought, climate change and diversion plans

They all remember when the San Luis Valley brimmed with water. South of San Luis, Ronda Lobato raced the rising floodwaters in San Francisco Creek every spring to fill sandbags that protected her grandparents’ farm.  North of Center, potato farmer Sheldon Rockey faced so much spring mud that he had to learn to extract his stuck tractor.  Outside Monte Vista, Tyler Mitchell needed only a hand shovel on the family farm near Monte Vista to reach shallow underground flows in the Valley’s once-abundant water table.

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Aquafornia news Time

Water rights activist Nicole Horseherder on sustainability

Nicole Horseherder lives in Hard Rock, Ariz., population 53. Hard Rock sits on the Black Mesa, which takes its name from the numerous coal seams running through the plateau in western Arizona.  Horseherder’s home has no running water, as it is prohibitively expensive to drill down to the nearest aquifer that has potable water. Twice a week, she drives her 20-year-old, three-quarter-ton GMC pickup—towing a 500-gal. tank mounted on a flatbed trailer—to a community well 25 miles away.  Coal and water have dominated Horseherder’s life and work for the past decade.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Madera County CA, overwhelmed by drought, dry water wells

Madera County is running out of time as groundwater levels plummet to new depths. Wells are going dry everywhere. Drillers have months-long waitlists. Residents are scrambling for water tanks. And farmers will soon face a reckoning after agriculture’s footprint, particularly nut trees, has more than doubled in the past 50 years — far outpacing irrigation supplies.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Faulconer gets briefed on Calif. drought – “a human crisis by design”

The San Joaquin Valley is quickly become home to another ignominious superlative: greatest number of water outages per community. The state’s ever-worsening drought conditions are pushing Valley communities to the brink on the precipice of a statewide recall election. As the Sept. 14 election nears, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer returned to the San Joaquin Valley on Friday for a briefing with members of the Latino Water Coalition, Fresno County Supervisors, and an assemblage of some of the top water experts in the region.

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Aquafornia news Undark Magazine

In clashes over cannabis, race, and water, hard data is scarce

Tucked between two mountain ranges in Northern California’s Siskiyou County, the Shasta Valley is as complex as it is impressive. … The dearth of knowledge is perhaps most pronounced when it comes to what scientists call the hydrogeology of the groundwater basin –– how exactly water moves through the volcanic rock below the ground. The movement of that water is the economic linchpin of the valley, with cattle ranchers, alfalfa farmers, cannabis growers, and others all depending on it. And thousands of residents also depend on the groundwater for their homes.

Aquafornia news Water World

Calif. city of Needles’ receives $3M for drinking water

The California State Water Resources Board (SWRCB) has given the city of Needles $3 million for drinking water infrastructure, according to a press release. The funding will support a new drinking well and booster station. The City of Needles worst fears were realized In July when the only well that supplies the community with portable drinking water failed.  The city was able to identify the replacement part and repaired the well within 24 hours.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Edna Valley farmers, residents, and water companies collaborate on plan to stabilize groundwater basin

Water wells in the Edna Valley used to be shallow: “You could put a well to 30 or 40 feet. Well that’s just kind of unrealistic [now],” Edna Valley Growers Mutual Company President Bob Schiebelhut said. Some of those shallow wells didn’t make it through the last drought, drying up and forcing landowners to drill a little deeper. Now in a new drought, Edna Valley farmers and residents are once again praying for rain, Schiebelhut said. But they’re also moving forward with SLO County and the city of SLO on a plan to make their groundwater more drought resilient.

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Tooleville wells nearly run dry, state begins consolidation with Exeter

Maria Olivera’s house sits on a dirt road that dead-ends at the Friant Kern Canal, the 152-mile aqueduct quenching the endless thirst of the San Joaquin Valley crops that feed the country. She’s called Tooleville home since 1974, where residents have been fighting to attain the basic human right to clean drinking water for the better part of two decades.

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Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency

News release: Groundwater agency encourages public to provide feedback on draft groundwater sustainability plan 

The Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency announced it will hold its final in-person workshop on Aug. 25 for residents to provide their input on a draft plan for long-term management of the local groundwater basin. The workshop is the last in-person opportunity for the public to ask questions and weigh in on issues and proposed projects and management actions designed to protect the basin from overuse.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Homes lose running water in Klamath basin as they compete with farmers, ranchers

Nearly 200 people in the Klamath Basin this summer reported their wells going dry. In response, local and federal emergency officials have delivered hundreds of the 2,500-gallon, igloo-shaped storage tanks that can hook up to people’s homes to get some water flowing through their pipes again. When someone’s well runs dry, they can first try and drop their pump deeper into their well. That’s the equipment that pumps water from the well into pipes that run into a building. 

Aquafornia news Planning and Conservation League

Blog: Introducing modernizing California water law

Summers are getting hotter. Rain and snowpack are disappearing, and water reserves are shrinking. This reduction of readily available, adequate water resources is creating a crisis that directly harms Californians and their environment. Studies have found that one million Californians do not have safe drinking water. In addition, during the last drought, about 3,500 domestic wells went dry and about 2,600 households were negatively affected by the lack of available water.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Fresno writer remembers watery joys of the past, even as the drought wears her down

As if I’m a thirsty person craving my next drink, I keep thinking about water. I hear the stories. A 20-acre family farm sits fallow. Down the road, another piece of land has the same barren look. Is the problem reasonable crop values or access to water? Likely, a bucket of both.  Fresno averages 11.5 inches of rain per year. Total precipitation from Oct. 1, 2020 to date is 6.59 inches, or 60% of normal — a larger percentage than most parts of the state.  In the canal I floated down as a kid, not a drop of water has flowed all season.
-Written by Danielle R. Shapazian, a nurse and writer who lives in Fresno.  

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

Fresno State reports resources available to Central Valley well owners affected by drought

Resources are available to help San Joaquin Valley residents affected by drought maintain access to drinking water. A group of organizations in the San Joaquin Valley coordinated by the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley Water Workgroup have developed an outreach plan and a list of resources available to private well owners or part of a small community who have lost or are concerned about losing access to drinking water due to groundwater level. 

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Aquafornia news Winters Express

Nature Nearby - What’s happening with this ‘extreme’ drought?

Summer is underway and that means splashing around Putah Creek, hiking, camping, and… heat domes? With this excessive heat, the thought on everyone’s minds is likely how does this severe drought affect water resources throughout California? The extreme temperatures coupled with the low snowpack in the Sierra have meant fast evaporation in many of the state’s reservoirs; not to mention a heat dome that has descended upon much of the United States bringing record breaking heat to even the most mild summer climates.

Aquafornia news National Groundwater Association

NGWA stresses need for increased funding for aquifer recharge and water reuse projects in western United States

In the wake of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) declaring a federal water shortage of the Colorado River Basin, NGWA is again stressing the need for increased funding for aquifer recharge and water reuse projects in the western United States. On August 16, the USBR declared its first-ever water shortage of the Colorado River Basin, which will trigger a smaller amount of water distributed from Lake Mead and cuts to individual state water allocations.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California drought drains wells and dreams in Central Valley

Fourteen years ago, Heriberto Sevilla came across a ranch on the outskirts of Madera set among fields of stalk grass and bright wildflowers. Pepper trees dotted the meadow, and children played in the natural lakes created by heavy rains. It was the perfect place to raise a big family. … But then a darkness came over the little Eden the Sevillas had created. Amid two years of relentless drought, the well’s output slowly tapered off. The family was forced to buy gallons of precious water from the grocery store to take showers, clean dishes and cook. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California builds ‘Noah’s Ark’ as extinction looms

It was just before sunrise in July when the botanists Naomi Fraga and Maria Jesus threw on backpacks and crunched their way across a brittle alkaline flat in the hottest corner of the Mojave Desert. Their mission: to rescue a tiny plant teetering on the brink of extinction. … Today, the species [Nitrophila mohavensis] has dwindled to fewer than 150,000, and most of the plants that still sprout from this salt-white playa have stopped producing viable seeds — stressed victims of decreasing rainfall, rising temperatures and the loss of groundwater due to pumping.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

California enacted a groundwater law 7 years ago. But wells are still drying up — and it’s spreading

Kelly O’Brien’s drinking water well had been in its death throes for days before its pump finally gave out over Memorial Day weekend. … Soon O’Brien learned that other wells were failing around her. She heard about one neighbor to the north, another to the east. The list kept growing: She started a Facebook group for owners of dry wells to share their woes and resources, and it grew to more than 665 members. 

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Aquafornia news The Economist

Why pumping groundwater isn’t a long-term solution to drought

Signs of drought proliferate across the American West. California is rationing water for farmers in the state’s Central Valley. Salmon are dying en masse in the Pacific Northwest as river temperatures climb. Lake Mead, on the border of Nevada and Arizona, is drying up. … Groundwater is the source of drinking water for half of Americans, and nearly all of the country’s rural communities. … But groundwater has become dangerously depleted in places where pumping has exceeded the rate at which aquifers are naturally replenished.

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

A well fixer’s story of the California drought

The well fixer and I were standing at the edge of an almond orchard in the exhausted middle of California. It was late July, and so many wells on the farms of Madera County were coming up dry that he was running out of parts to fix them. In this latest round of western drought, desperate voices were calling him at six in the morning and again at midnight. They were puzzled why their pumps were coughing up sand, the water’s flow to their orchards now a trickle.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Deep pockets vie for Kern pistachio orchards

Pistachios have recently become perhaps the top choice for institutional investors in Kern County agriculture, apparently surpassing almonds. Farmland brokers say prices and demand for local pistachio orchards — the few properties listed for sale, anyway — have increased since about 2019 because of the trees’ longevity, crop price stability and higher tolerance for limited and lower-quality water supplies.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Western water projects in infrastructure deal

Included in the sweeping $1 trillion infrastructure bill approved by the Senate is funding for Western water projects that farmers, water providers and environmentalists say are badly needed across the parched region. … The plan would provide $1.15 billion for improving water storage and transport infrastructure such as dams and canals. Groundwater storage projects, which replenish underground aquifers that aren’t vulnerable to evaporation, would also get funding. 

Aquafornia news The Press

Residents asked to comment on groundwater plan updates

The Town of Discovery Bay is seeking public comment on the latest additions to its groundwater sustainability plan (GSP). Comments are due by Aug. 16. Unlike other East County communities which use a blend of water drawn from the Delta and groundwater, Discovery Bay residents are completely reliant on groundwater for all household and commercial uses.

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Aquafornia news Napa Register

Napa County recycled water used at record levels amid drought

Napa Valley Country Club golf course is lush and green, thanks to the purple pipe.  A two-year drought is helping to boost Napa County’s recycled water use to record levels. The Napa Sanitation District wastewater treatment plant provides enough non-potable irrigation water annually to fill St. Helena’s Bell Canyon reservoir and more. Napa Valley Country Club in rural Coombsville started piping water from the plant six miles away in late 2015. That allows it to depend less on a well in an area where groundwater levels have long been a concern.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times:

Friday Top of the Scroll: As drought worsens, Southland residents face new calls for water conservation

As drought conditions worsen, public officials in Southern California are beginning to take steps to conserve dwindling resources. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — one of the largest water distributors in the nation — is weighing whether to declare a supply alert for the first time in seven years, officials said. And one of its customers, the city of Glendale, this week implemented new mandatory conservation requirements for its residents.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

City of Roseville drawing on water it stored in underground aquifers during years of plenty

The City of Roseville is going underground to tap into drinking water as its primary source dries up during the drought. They have a plan to supply water to more than 50,000 homes. For years, Roseville relied almost exclusively on surface water from Folsom Lake for drinking water. But that can be tricky and near impossible, considering previous and current droughts — plus studies showing the impacts of climate change.

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

California drought: Wine country vineyard struggles to stay afloat after well runs dry

As the drought deepens, industries that rely on water are facing a desperate situation and that includes the wine regions of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys where one producer has literally run dry. Chris Loxton, of Loxton Cellars, spends so much time in his Glen Ellen vineyard that he can spot the slightest changes in his grapevines and the news isn’t good. … Vineyards across this famous wine-growing region are beginning to show signs of stress from lack of water.

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Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Indian Wells water battle

Two motions to block the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s groundwater replenishment fee were shot down in court this week. Judge Kirk H. Nakamura of Orange County Superior Court granted motions filed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority to dismiss two separate actions filed by Searles Valley Minerals and Mojave Pistachios. The actions were aimed at stopping the collection of the groundwater replenishment fee, which was imposed last January to fund the cost of securing rights to water to bring to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

State again exercises discretion to reject fracking permits in western Kern

For the second time, State Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk has used his discretionary authority, as opposed to technical standards, to reject a series of permit applications to use the controversial oilfield technique known as fracking. Ntuk sent a letter Monday to Bakersfield-based oil producer Aera Energy LLC saying he has reviewed and denied applications filed by the company to hydraulically fracture 14 wells in the South Belridge oil field in western Kern County.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

CA drought: Old-fashioned dowser uses sixth sense to help Napa farmer find water

With the drought rapidly drying up reservoirs, farmers are desperately searching for new sources of water and some of them are turning to a mysterious method, thousands of years old. … [Rob] Thompson, who owns Thompson Well Location in Sonoma County, practices the mysterious art of dowsing, locating underground water with nothing more than a pair of bent steel rods. He touches his rods to the ground to reset them, then begins to move them. When they point toward water, the rods magically cross each other, almost like they become magnetized.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

More Klamath Basin wells go dry as groundwater decline persists

In July, the number of dry wells registered in Klamath County was at 84. A month later, that number has climbed to 185 as wells from the California state line all the way to Crescent and La Pine are getting low and going dry. There are likely more unregistered dry wells in Klamath County. The county watermaster’s office said they receive daily calls from well owners asking how to register. And the Modoc County Sheriff shared a PSA on Facebook explaining what to do if someone in that county is without well water.

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Aquafornia news NDTV

A drought-hit California town Corcoran finds itself sinking into the ground

[S]igns of this subsidence are nearly invisible to the human eye. There are no cracks in the walls of the typical American shops in the town’s center, nor crevices opening up in the streets or fields: to measure subsidence, Californian authorities had to turn to NASA, which used satellites to analyze the geological change. And yet, over the past 100 years, Corcoran has sunken “the equivalent of a two-story house,” Jeanine Jones, a manager with the California Department of Water Resources, told AFP.

Aquafornia news California Water Boards

News release: Jayne Joy appointed executive officer of Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board

The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board has appointed Jayne Joy as its new executive officer. Joy replaces Hope Smythe, who devoted 37 years to the regional board and served as executive officer since 2017. … Joy, an engineer who was promoted in July, was the regional board’s assistant executive officer since November 2017. Since earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego in chemical engineering, she has managed a broad array of environmental programs in Southern California in the areas of water and wastewater treatment, groundwater studies and remediation, and solid waste management.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Friant-Kern Canal repair process continues with repayment contract

Another hurdle has been cleared in the pending and much needed repairs of a 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal. Known as the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Project, repairs will be done on the 33-mile stretch of the canal form between Lindsay and Strathmore to North Kern County. When the federal government provided $206 million in funding for the project last year that meant the project would finally become a reality. 

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey Peninsula well failed, allowing saltier water to mix with drinking water

Monterey Peninsula water officials are breathing a sigh of relief after a monitoring well in the Seaside Basin picked up increased salt levels, prompting concerns that an underground reservoir of potable water was being infiltrated by seawater. But it turned out the salts were from a failed well casing that allowed saltier shallow water from the Dune Sands to enter into the well and cross-contaminate the deeper body of water called the Paso Robles Aquifer that is tapped for drinking water. 

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Aquafornia news KGUN

University of Arizona studies how PFAS travels to groundwater

A $1.3 million study is underway at the University of Arizona to learn more about how PFAS enters the ground and contaminates water to effort remediation. “It’s a really big issue and we are starting to tackle this particular problem of PFAS being present in soils due to the many decades of the use of PFAS in almost every aspect of our life and also at the military sites,” said Bo Guo, principle investigator.

Aquafornia news KCBX

Department of Water Resources conducts helicopter survey of Paso Robles-area groundwater basin

If you live in Paso Robles or Atascadero, you may have seen a strange sight this weekend: a helicopter with a large hoop on it, flying 200 feet above the ground. The Department of Water Resources held something called an airborne electromagnetic survey of that area to collect data on the groundwater basin there. During one of these surveys, the helicopter tows electronic equipment — which looks like a large hoop — that sends signals into the ground, which then bounce back. It’s like taking an MRI of the ground’s subsurface — and it helps the DWR know more about our groundwater basin.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 30-day comment period for Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project repayment contract

The Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Authority announced today a 30-day public comment period for a repayment contract related to costs of extraordinary operation and maintenance work on the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project. This project will restore a 33-mile stretch of the canal that has lost over half of its original capacity to subsidence. 

Aquafornia news BenitoLink

Water agency releases draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan for public review

The San Benito County Water District, which manages groundwater around Hollister, has released for public review a draft plan that will set out ways to ensure healthy, equitable supplies of the local resource. District officials on July 29 made their draft of the North San Benito Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plan available for a 90-day public review as required by state law. The periodically updated 357-page document assesses water levels and land use conditions. It proposes ways the district can manage water for long-term groundwater sustainability.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Study: North Coast cannabis growers rely more on groundwater amid debate over drought restrictions

A new study has found that cannabis farms in California’s prime growing regions, including the North Coast, rely primarily on groundwater wells to irrigate their crop as opposed to streams, providing more insight into the debate over water scarcity as the state grapples with a historic drought. The Cannabis Research Center at UC Berkeley report found that well water use by cannabis farms is common statewide, exceeding 75% among farms that have permits to grow in nine of the 11 top cannabis-producing counties that include Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties.

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Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Report: Valley could see 6-9 degree temperature increase by 2100

Climate change projections show the Central Valley will see more hot, dry years like 2021, but also some dangerously wet years as well. This year has already seen high temperatures, drought and high fire risk for Central Valley residents, and Jordi Vasquez, environmental scientist for the California Department of Water Resources, said climate models show the Central Valley heating up 6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. … The biggest impact for Central Valley communities like Hanford will be water management, Vasquez said.

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Aquafornia news NASA

Blog: A long view of Sierra snow

In Spanish, Sierra Nevada means “snowy mountain range.” While the term “snowy” has generally been true for most of U.S. history, those mountains have seen less snow accumulation in recent years. This decline plays a role in water management and response to drought in California and other western states. Each spring and summer, meltwater runoff from Sierra Nevada snowpack helps replenish rivers and reservoirs, while also recharging the groundwater. In fact, snowpack accounts for about 30 percent of California’s water supply in a typical year, according to the California Department of Water Resources. 

Aquafornia news How Stuff Works

Water ‘witches’ pit science against folklore in search of groundwater

When it comes to water witches — also known as dowsers, diviners, doodlebuggers and various other names — in our so-called enlightened times, though, we’re faced with two distinct possibilities. One, they’re either really good, and have been for a long time, at pulling a fast one on desperate landowners looking for groundwater. Or, two, they actually know what they’re doing … 

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Beacon

MCCSD board reviews penalties

At the monthly Mendocino City Community Services District meeting the board discussed the ground water management ordinance penalty options for constituents who do not comply to the permitting and monitoring requirements. The board also continued to discuss options for drought mitigations. The Ground Water Extraction Permit Ordinance 2020-1 that passed in April of 2020 reiterated the district’s authority to compel any property owner within district boundaries to obtain a ground water extraction permit and install a meter, monitor their water usage and report it monthly to MCCSD.

Aquafornia news Air Quality Matters

Deep dig: Farther-down drilling into Valley aquifers brings more ‘up-top’ pollution

As drought conditions worsen in the western U.S., it is there that water is becoming more and more scarce. As for that which is at the surface and below, you know, the subsurface supply, is everything being done that can be done to get the most out of this extremely valuable resource? In California’s San Joaquin Valley, according to information imparted on the Jul. 20, 2021 edition of the PBS “News Hour,” agriculture drinks up half of the groundwater supply. In some Valley locations, water availability is extremely limited. 

Aquafornia news California Water Law Journal

Legal analysis on groundwater contamination: Punitives may come to those who wait

California’s courts routinely impose punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly release hazardous substances which contaminate groundwater. But California has been slow to follow the nationwide trend favoring punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly fail to remediate their past hazardous releases before those releases spread and cause greater harm.

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Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Cost of regulatory compliance more than triples in six-year period

A study tracking regulatory compliance costs in California was recently released, with striking findings. Researchers looked at data from 22 different farms of various sizes in the San Joaquin Valley between 2012 and 2018. During that timeframe, regulatory costs increased by 265 percent. Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and co-author of the report, Lynn Hamilton said several factors contributed to the significant increase. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California senators press Congress for $1 billion to prep for future drought

With rural wells running dry and reservoir levels dwindling amid the Western drought, California senators are pressing Congress for an infusion of cash to renovate the state’s collapsing drinking water system. But instead of new dams or desalination plants, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla want … to boost stormwater capture, groundwater recharge and water recycling efforts in the Golden State and throughout the U.S.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Another valley town on the brink of going dry

The small, rural community of Tooleville is on the brink of going dry after one of its two wells went down Friday morning. It’s the second community in Tulare County to suffer water problems in the last two months as California struggles through the grip of a devastating drought. The only well in the town of Teviston, also in rural Tulare County, broke down June 9 leaving residents there dry until the pump was fixed July 16.

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Aquafornia news CBS News

It’s so hot in Dubai that the government is artificially creating rainstorms

With temperatures in Dubai regularly surpassing 115 degrees Fahrenheit, the government has decided to take control of the scorching weather.  Scientists in the United Arab Emirates are making it rain — artificially — using electrical charges from drones to manipulate the weather and force rainfall across the desert nation. Meteorological officials released video footage this week showing a downpour over Ras al Khaimah, as well as several other regions.  The new method of cloud seeding shows promise in helping to mitigate drought conditions worldwide …  

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Fixing sinking Friant-Kern Canal is unprecedented task. The latest hurdle? Scheduling payments.

After some negotiation, the Friant Water Authority Board of Directors will vote on a repayment contract with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the repair of a portion of the Friant-Kern Canal.  The Friant Water Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation held its second round of negotiations Thursday morning, which was a two-hour process hammering out contract language in the repayment deal. … At the center of the issue is a 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal that has lost over half of its original capacity to subsidence. 

Aquafornia news NPR

Without enough water to go around, farmers in California are exhausting aquifers

A lot of the fruits, vegetables and nuts that you see in grocery stores come from California. Growing them takes a huge amount of water, which is a huge problem when the state is in the middle of a drought. California’s farmers are pumping most of that water from underground aquifers. They can’t keep doing that, though, especially as the climate changes. NPR’s Dan Charles has the story.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Blog: Has water scarcity caught up with almonds?

Has double-digit growth within the California almond industry ended? Will last year’s 3.1-billion-pound crop be the largest on record? Is the industry ready to open a new chapter centered around something other than year-over-year record crops? Every year the news was pretty much the same from the Almond Board of California – predictions of double-digit annual growth as industry insiders talked up new markets and pointed to impressive numbers from the monthly position reports.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Seizing the moment – Preparing for next year with groundwater recharge opportunities

As water resources managers work hard this summer to deliver limited water supplies to cities, rural communities, farms, refuges and fisheries–while also providing essential hydropower for the state’s energy grid–there is increasing attention to prepare for the next water year. … As we think about water management opportunities for next year, there is an increasing focus on groundwater recharge … 

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Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - November 4

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles

Northern California Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - October 14

Join us as we guide you on a virtual exploration of the Sacramento River and its tributaries and learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news PBS News Hour

Thousands of wells could go dry in California as most of the state experiences extreme drought

One day last month, water in the community of Teviston, about 66 miles south of Fresno, suddenly stopped flowing.  The town’s services office fielded calls from residents who said their taps ran dry, and when city leaders opened their own faucets, nothing came out. Soon, officials realized  that the town’s main well had stopped working. … [T]he water level below the community has been dropping for the last 14 years, and two different wells had already failed.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Teviston CA has a new pump in well, running water restored

After over a month of transporting water from nearby towns and delivering bottled water to residents, the rural Tulare County community of Teviston had running water again Monday. Teviston’s only well broke down in early June, leaving hundreds of residents without running water. Teviston Community Services District board member, Frank Galaviz, said that the well is “back online” in an interview on Monday with The Bee. … In total, Teviston residents went without running water for two to three weeks, said board President Martin Correa. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Needles, California fights drought along the Colorado River

Rick Daniels lies awake at night worrying about a rusty contraption in a forlorn field, littered with discarded pipes and fire hydrants. It is the only water pump in Needles that meets state water quality standards, running 23 hours a day to keep up with demand, according to Daniels, the city manager. That’s a thin margin in one of America’s hottest cities, an urban speck in the desert near California’s border with Arizona. If this lone pump fails, 5,000 residents face the ultimate risk of taps running dry, as temperatures soar past 120 degrees …

Aquafornia news Malibu Times

Water redirected to refill Legacy Park pond

Residents, along with the local population of Mallard ducks, Canada geese and coots will soon get their Legacy Park nature preserve back. The pond, which is normally kept full most of the year with storm runoff water, totally dried up this spring in the middle of duckling season. The statewide drought took its toll. Meanwhile, the construction of a new office park and shopping center—the La Paz project—right across the street was running into difficulties with groundwater as workers excavated a future underground parking garage. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In California drought, water witches are swamped

In a vineyard flanked by scorched hills and charcoal trees, Rob Thompson gripped two stainless steel rods, began rotating in a circle and counted under his breath.  Then he said he had found it — water, hundreds of feet beneath the parched ground.  “This is really good,” said Mr. Thompson, 53, scratching an ‘X’ into the ashen soil with his shoe. “This is a deep one: 750 feet, 55 to 60 gallons a minute.” He added, “This one I can feel.”  Mr. Thompson is a water witch.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

Blog: Downloading the facts from California’s first groundwater plan assessments

In June 2021, the Department of Water Resources released the first groundwater sustainability plan decisions ahead of the statutory deadline identified in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act – commonly called SGMA.  The long-term planning required for SGMA will provide a buffer against drought and climate change and over time will contribute to reliable water supplies regardless of weather patterns in the State.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County approves emergency well resolution

The Tehama County Board of Supervisors approved an emergency resolution Tuesday that would allow residents with dry wells to purchase water directly from the county. Though not in the original agenda for the meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Bill Goodwin added the item as an addendum, which consisted of a presentation on why the resolution would be necessary. County administration has been looking at different wells within its jurisdiction to obtain the water from. Initially, the county looked toward the well at Ridgeway Park but discovered the water was non-potable and for irrigation only.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR to use innovative airborne technology to map state’s groundwater basins

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is using an innovative, helicopter-based technology to gather information about the state’s groundwater aquifer structure to support drought response and the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). DWR’s use of airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveys advances Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio goal of using technology to support the State’s understanding of groundwater resources.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: In California, who owns water rights is a mystery

As we careen deeper into drought, California will face increasing impacts to urban and agricultural economies, rivers and forests, and wildlife. In response, government agencies will need to determine how to allocate water among competing needs. Water users will scramble to buy and sell water — if they can — or reduce their use. But the current lack of information hobbles the ability to make difficult decisions about water management. For California to cope with persistent shortages, water rights data need to be accessible to decision-makers and the public.
-Written by Michael Kiparsky, director of the Wheeler Water Institute in the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley School of Law.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz to hold public meetings on possible water rights update

City of Santa Cruz water rights — that were established more than 50 years ago — are up for revision and will be discussed at two forthcoming public meetings. The rights, allocated by the California State Water Resources Control Board, dictate where and how water suppliers can use and move water. … The revision to the rights, could open up doors for the city to store winter water in aquifers such as the Mid County Groundwater Basin, by which Soquel Creek and Central Water Districts both pull water from. 

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California oil lobby seeks to strip environmental protections for groundwater amid drought

A prominent oil and gas lobbying group seeks to strip environmental protections from groundwater sources designated by the state for agricultural use and which may grow increasingly important to California’s water-scarce future, according to a memo obtained through a records request. The proposal, which hasn’t been publicly announced, suggests removing protections for groundwater reserves underneath 1,500 square surface miles in western Kern County, where  the upper groundwater zone alone can extend down thousands of feet.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: California isn’t running out of water; it’s running out of cheap water

A California water myth which becomes especially pernicious in droughts is that California is “running out of water”. Viewing California’s supply and demand pressures in terms of fixed water requirements perpetuates this myth and invariably places undue attention on building additional supply infrastructure. Instead, managing water as a scarce resource suggests a balanced portfolio of water trading, investments in conveyance, smart groundwater replenishment, and demand management. 

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County Supervisors to discuss groundwater

Groundwater, a subject of growing concern, will be discussed Tuesday during the Tehama County Board of Supervisors meeting. Clay Parker, the groundwater commissioner and Red Bluff councilman, will be delivering a report to the board with an update on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan and the Domestic and Agricultural Well Ad Hoc Committee. … The committee is still in early development, although the agenda report said an ordinance is expected to be brought before the board by the end of the year.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Newsom’s oil regulators deny new fracking permits, but industry is pushing back

California denied 21 oil drilling permits this week in the latest move toward ending fracking in a state that makes millions from the petroleum industry but is seeing widespread drought and more dangerous fire seasons linked to climate change. … Fracking involves injecting high-pressure water deep underground to extract oil or gas from rock. Critics say it can pollute groundwater and contributes to climate change.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Lawsuit alleges lax groundwater oversight in Sonoma County threatens Russian River

An environmental group dedicated to promoting healthy waterways around California is taking Sonoma County to court over permitting policies it says too liberally allow people to drill groundwater wells, potentially endangering Russian River stream flows. California Coastkeeper, an affiliate of the locally based Russian Riverkeeper and a dozen or so other organizations around the state, filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit late last month amid the intensifying drought and a surge in well drilling around the region.

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Dealing with drought: Farmers challenged as water supply dwindles

The drought is here, and agriculture is scrambling. Water regulators have cut the amount that can be taken from lakes, rivers and streams. Farmers who ordinarily get that water either have to forgo planting some of their fields, or pump water from the ground, or a combination of the two. Farmers dependent on wells are also affected… Neither the state nor the federal water projects are delivering water for agriculture from Northern California to south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Drought: The end of California’s groundwater free-for-all

The water spigots on California farms will soon be twisted tighter. As the state faces a growing threat from drought, an increasing number of water agencies are planning to require flow meters on agricultural wells, part of a landmark effort to measure and constrain pumping that used to be free and unlimited. It’s a controversial step aimed at protecting water supplies that could change cultivation practices in the Golden State’s thirsty fields.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State still hasn’t fixed Porterville drinking water crisis from the last drought. Will residents go dry again?

The epicenter of dry wells during California’s last devastating drought was undoubtedly Porterville. The small Tulare County town saw wells go dry en masse in its unincorporated east side. It became a national headline as the media descended. Amid the glare of tv cameras, the state pledged to help and agreed to build three new wells. Five years have gone by, the state is in the grip of another drought and Porterville is walking a tightrope as the state connected more than 755 new homes to the city’s water system but only built one new well.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

State finds deficiencies in Paso and Cuyama basin plans

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) published its first reviews of local groundwater sustainability plans as part of a 2014 state law regulating groundwater—and two Central Coast aquifers are included in the initial wave of feedback. DWR reviewed and found “deficiencies” in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin and Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin sustainability plans—declining to give final approval to either.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

U.S. Chamber official warned of climate danger in 1989

Twenty years before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for climate science to be put on trial, an official from the powerful pro-business lobby group crafted what would prove to be a prescient message on global warming. Harvey Alter, who ran the Chamber’s resources policy department at the time, said in 1989 there was “broad consensus” that human-made climate change would likely have a disastrous impact on coastal communities and farmers. … “Wetlands will flood, salt water will infuse fresh water supplies, and there will be changes in the distribution of tree and crop species and agricultural productivity,” Alter said. 

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Report: Groundwater overhaul could threaten drinking water of more than a million Valley residents

As drought settles over the San Joaquin Valley, a new report warns of other circumstances that could result in entire communities losing drinking water. More than a million Valley residents could lose their public water in coming decades under the sweeping groundwater legislation known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), according to the paper published earlier this month by the non-profit Pacific Institute. Signed into law in 2014, SGMA aims over the next two decades to reduce California’s groundwater deficit by balancing water pumped out of the ground with the amount replenished.

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Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Report: Dispute resolution clauses in interorganizational coordination agreements

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a landmark piece of legislation in the quest for comprehensive management of California’s groundwater, required the creation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), and authorized local governments either to form GSAs separately or join with other local governments in the same groundwater basin. This was the genesis of 74 interorganizational agreements now examined in a new report, which focuses on whether, given the high stakes and history of conflict in water resources management in California, participants were prepared for disagreements with dispute resolution clauses in their planning.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Glenn County supervisors put temporary halt on agriculture well drilling

The Glenn County Board of Supervisors approved an interim ordinance Tuesday that puts a temporary stoppage on the drilling of new agriculture water well permits in Glenn County. The moratorium, which took place immediately Tuesday, lasts for 45 days. County staff stated in the public hearing Tuesday that California is going through a drought and Glenn County and other areas of California are seeing the effect on water wells. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

How is California’s landmark groundwater law impacting Sonoma County?

The drought is intensifying efforts to conserve all of Sonoma County’s water resources, including a supply that has eluded oversight until recently: groundwater. But even as plans for groundwater monitoring and sustainable use proceed, tensions are building over its management. The authority to evaluate and regulate groundwater comes from a 2014 law crafted in the middle of the state’s last drought. 

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Aquafornia news KNAU Arizona Public Radio

Report warns of Arizona’s diminishing groundwater supplies

A recent report from Arizona State University warns the state is mining groundwater faster than it can be replaced. The report focuses on five areas around the state including Prescott and Phoenix that fall under the rules of the 1980 Groundwater Management Act. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with water expert Sarah Porter about the report’s conclusions.

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Tulare County takes over East Orosi water system

Help may be on the horizon for the about 700 residents of East Orosi dependent on bottled water. The Tulare County Board of Supervisors has directed county staff to begin negotiating the scope of work and a budget … to take control of the East Orosi Community Services District public water system. … East Orosi’s water has been plagued with nitrates from fertilizers and coliform bacteria since at least 2003, for which their water system has been cited for violating the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) both contaminants dozens of times.

Aquafornia news The Independent

Mining halted at “Lake A” in the Chain of Lakes

The move to end mining in a Tri-Valley lake became official this week. Alameda County planning commissioners on Monday approved plans for restoring the Eliot Quarry, where more than a century of rock mining in the unincorporated area between Livermore and Pleasanton will eventually be turned into lakes surrounded by open fields and recreation trails. … [T]he project will include the planting of native trees and shrubs, creating passages for fish, and reducing the amount of groundwater lost to San Francisco Bay by deepening the lake so it can hold more water. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Golden Gate Park uses 427 million gallons of drinkable water per year. That’s all about to change

Using drinking water to keep our parks luscious and green isn’t uncommon in San Francisco, but it’s something the city is working to change. Golden Gate Park currently uses its own groundwater wells to irrigate the park, which has water quality permitted for drinking water standards. The Panhandle uses water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). By summer 2022, barring any delays, the water used for irrigation and lake fill would instead come from a recycled water system that’s currently under construction to replace the current watering system.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

News release: Forty-two percent of public water supply wells in California’s San Joaquin Valley vulnerable, finds new report

Forty two percent of shallow wells supplying water to community water systems in California’s San Joaquin Valley are vulnerable to going partially or fully dry under the state’s minimum thresholds, finds a new report from the Pacific Institute. Most impacted wells are shallower, and tend to be in disadvantaged communities.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

This giant ‘inland ocean’ is Southern California’s last defense against drought

Mechanical engineer Brent Yamasaki set out amid the recent blistering heat wave to take stock of the giant dams, pumps and pipes that support Diamond Valley Lake in Riverside County, the largest storehouse of water in Southern California…. water availability in Southern California “is expected to remain relatively stable over the next few years,” says Deven Upadhyay, the MWD’s chief operating officer. “Diamond Valley Lake is a key part of that forecast….”

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Water wells going dry in Madera County

On Sunday evening, a well motor failed in a Madera Ranchos community water system that serves around 1,000 homes. Last week, another well pump stopped working in Parksdale, southeast of Madera. Neither community has lost water service. Both are experiencing low pressure. Madera County Public Works runs both water systems. From Madera Acres to the Bonadelle Ranchos, private wells are running dry at an alarming rate. Self-Help Enterprises, an organization that supports communities with water challenges, has been tracking the problem.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

As a hot, dry summer begins in California, more water wells are failing

In this blistering year in California, drinking water wells are going dry in increasing numbers, rekindling memories of the historic drought of 2012 to 2016, when more than 2,600 wells across the state stopped producing water. So many wells went dry in 2014 in the town of East Porterville that Tulare County supplied portable public showers. California is not yet to that level of emergency…. But because the trend lines do not look promising, government agencies and nonprofit groups are preparing for a difficult summer in which thousands of wells could fail.

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

California drought: Morgan Hill imposes mandatory water restrictions

Unlike most Bay Area cities, Morgan Hill gets 100 percent of its water from underground wells. And that’s a big reason why the city became the first in Santa Clara County to issue mandatory water use restrictions. … The mayor said he enjoys his green grass as much as the next person, but said mandatory watering cutbacks to just two days a week and only in the early morning or late evening hours mean it won’t look lush for long.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Madera ranchers circle the wagons over county groundwater plan

Central Valley cattle ranchers are gearing up for a fight against what they see as groundwater rustling. Their fear is that newly formed groundwater agencies in some areas could devalue their land by not giving them a fair share of their own groundwater. Ranchers believe those fears were realized on June 8 when the Madera County Board of Supervisors approved a groundwater allocation that will partially exclude rangeland. Ranchers who own rangeland that has never been irrigated won’t receive a share of the county’s “transitional water” allotment.

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Aquafornia news Sun Gazette

Tooleville water tainted with unregulated contaminant

 Instead of turning on the faucet to fill her pots to cook dinner, Maria Olivera turns to her drums of state issued water sitting next to the stove at her home in Tooleville. … Tooleville spans all of two dusty dirt roads at the edge of the Friant-Kern Canal, where the blue hue of flowing water is just out of sight over raised levees. Along with it, the basic human right of having clean drinking water. Nitrates from farming fertilizers have rendered the water undrinkable in Tooleville, and the community is dependent on biweekly water deliveries.

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Aquafornia news Food and Water Watch

Blog: Drilling California dry – An analysis of oil and gas water usage during the Newsom Administration

As California suffers from a major drought and enters a climate change fueled wildfire season, oil and gas operators continue to use hundreds of millions of gallons of freshwater for drilling operations annually. It’s a vicious symbiotic cycle: fracking and drilling contribute to climate change and suck up finite water resources, then drought and wildfires worsen from climate change.

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Can the US survive California’s drought?

The drought facing the Western United States is bad. Really bad. It’s become worse faster than the last one. As more of the United States suffers from drought conditions and water supplies are diminishing, water demands are rising. Smaller water supplies combined with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and other effects of climate change pose an enormous threat by creating a feedback loop that exacerbates drought conditions and increases wildfire risk across the United States. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California must use budget surplus to fix water problems

As California plunges into another “historic” drought, people across the state are worried about water shortages. But the last drought never really ended for some Californians, like residents of East Porterville that still have emergency water storage tanks in their front yards. With the state’s current financial surplus, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fund drought preparedness and water safety in communities that have lived for decades with shallow and contaminated drinking water wells, inadequate water treatment, and other infrastructure failures…
-Written by Carolina Garcia, a resident of Tombstone Territory, and Sandra Chavez, a member of the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group. 

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Aquafornia news Stanford News

Blog: Finding the ’sweet spots’ for managed aquifer recharge

Much of California’s $50 billion agricultural industry depends on groundwater. We typically see only what this water makes possible above the soil: almond and pistachio groves, citrus orchards, rows of lettuce and grapevines and cattle herds in a valley that supplies a quarter of the nation’s food even when surface water is scarce. But a lot is happening below the surface. Deep underground, intricate channels of sand and gravel weave through tightly packed clays and silts, allowing Earth to hold water like a sponge.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Drought in Tulare County never ends

Severe drought is gripping most of California, but its misery isn’t spread equally. While most of the state compares today’s extreme conditions to previous droughts, people in Tulare County speak of drought — in the singular, as in a continuous state of being. … Tulare County’s never-ending drought brings dried up wells and plenty of misery The entire West is suffering from extreme dryness, heat and fire risk, and the small, rural towns of northern Tulare County, outside of Visalia, are caught in its vortex.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Oilfield disposal site in western Kern set to close

A large oilfield wastewater disposal pond near Buttonwillow will likely close this summer, and its operator and last remaining customer will together pay $645,000 in penalties and fees, under a recent court settlement that further restricts a decades-old practice that has become a focus of regional water quality regulators. The accord concludes a 2019 lawsuit that accused facility owner Valley Water Management Co. and Colorado-based oil producer Sentinel Peak Resources of dumping fluid containing harmful chemicals above a reservoir that provides local drinking and irrigation water.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Carmel River floodplain project goes before Monterey County Board of Supervisors

A $45 million project that will partially reshape the area around the mouth of the Carmel River promises to increase flood control and restore the biodiversity in the area. Called the “Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement,” the nonprofit Big Sur Land Trust, Monterey County, the Monterey Regional Parks District and the state are collaborating to restore the historic floodplain of a portion of the Carmel River where it meets Highway 1. 

Aquafornia news KPBS

Sen. Padilla proposes bill to clean up toxic chemical on military bases

Military bases across California, including some in San Diego, have tested positive for a toxic chemical. A bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla attempts to find the money to finally clean up the legacy of PFAS. The Department of Defense has known for decades that a chemical found in aviation fire fighting foam contains potentially toxic polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which has been linked to cancer when found in groundwater, Padilla said.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Ecosystem restoration and water management

Restoration implies returning to a prior state. A broken cup carefully glued, might appear nearly as whole as the original, but will always differ from the original.  Ecosystem restoration attempts to return an evolving web of interconnected species and physical processes to a prior state. This endeavor raises complex questions: what prior state should be the restoration target?

Aquafornia news Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors create standalone water agency

During the budget hearings on June 8, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a proposal for a standalone water agency to combat water insecurity in Mendocino County. This water agency will immediately focus on the local drought emergency and work on other water-related projects, such as water curtailment and groundwater management, in the future.

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Aquafornia news Ag Net West

First assessments of groundwater sustainability plans released by DWR

The first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans have been released by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). In lieu of waiting until the end of the two-year review period, DWR has decided to release assessments as they are completed. Assessments have been completed for the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County. Assessments for the Cuyama Valley Basin and Paso Robles Subbasin have also been completed.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save 30% off maps, guides and more so we don’t have to move them!

We’re moving later this summer to new quarters closer to the Sacramento River, and we don’t want to haul all of our water maps, Layperson’s Guides, DVDs and more to the new home. So we’re making you a limited-time offer we hope you can’t refuse: Take 30 percent off the price of all of our maps, guides and more.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: State water board choice is key to providing clean water for all

California’s drought highlights the importance of an appointment sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk – filling the final seat on the State Water Resources Control Board.   This is a critical agency appointment at a critical time. The drought highlights many inequities in California water policy. Disadvantaged communities in Stockton face the prospect of a drought summer plagued by harmful algae blooms in Delta rivers.  Those algae outbreaks, which can harm children and kill pets, are caused by excessive nutrients and inadequate freshwater flow.  
-Written by Belinda Faustina, a strategic advisor with Los Angeles Waterkeeper, and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, the executive director of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Kern County Water Summit: SGMA implementation update

At the Kern County Water Summit held last week, hosted by the Water Association of Kern County, Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resources Statewide Groundwater Management Program Steven Springhorn provided an update on the Department’s progress on SGMA implementation, including the Department’s review of the submitted Groundwater Sustainability Plans and the existing and proposed SGMA-related assistance.

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Aquafornia news The Union

Opinion: Facts matter — Don’t be a victim of mining fiction

The Union has printed several opinion pieces by Idaho-Maryland Mine Project opponents. The majority of these columns present “information” that’s either biased or misleading and based neither on science nor logic. Here are the facts. … Recent columns erroneously suggest that groundwater impacts cannot be accurately predicted. Numerous expert hydrogeologists and a century of mining at the Idaho-Maryland say otherwise. … The actual conclusion is that no wells would be drained…
-Written by Ben Mossman, president of Rise Grass Valley and CEO of Rise Gold Corp., U.S. corporations.

Aquafornia news Stanford University-The Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: How ingenuity and desperate measures kept urban water flowing during the ‘77 drought

When a historic drought gripped California and the Bay Area, water managers came together to keep drinkable water in the homes of vulnerable areas in Marin and Contra Costa Counties. Two veterans of those efforts describe the dramatic process, and consider lessons it offers for today’s imminent drought.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State releases its first reviews of local SGMA plans

Against the backdrop of what’s shaping up as a devastating drought year, the California Department of Water Resources has released its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The department released reviews of four local plans, approving two but sending the other two back to local groundwater sustainability agencies, saying the plans need more work. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Pulling out trees, trucking water for cows: California farmers take drastic measures in drought

Normally, the biggest vegetable grower in Sonoma County, Humberto Castañeda Produce, grows heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, watermelons and other crops on 180 acres outside of Santa Rosa. But this year, Humberto Castañeda and his son, Gabriel, are farming only 17 acres after receiving a fraction of their normal allotment of water from the city of Santa Rosa. … The Castañedas are among countless farmers across the state taking drastic measures to deal with the drought…

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: How better data can help California avoid a drinking water crisis

[During the last drought], small rural communities reliant on shallow wells — many of them communities of color — were among the most affected. More than 2,600 households reported losing access to water because their wells went dry between 2012–16. (That number is likely an undercount as reporting was voluntary.) Much has changed however since the 2012–16 drought. Drought reporting systems such as MyDryWaterSupply are available today, and better data on domestic well depths and locations, as well as groundwater levels, aid our understanding of drought risk. 
-Written by Rich Pauloo, co-founder of the Water Data Lab; and Alvar Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California Water.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Last summer’s massive wildfires bring heavy metals to this year’s spring runoff

In unburned forests, the spring runoff is a glorious, annual event. But not this year. [U.S. Forest service ecologist Liz] Roberts and other forest experts know that the runoff will carry an array of frightening heavy metals and ash-laden sediment generated in the burned soils, posing danger to the people of Glenwood Springs, who rely on Grizzly Creek and its neighbor just to the west, No Name Creek, for drinking water. 

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Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Can California avoid another toxic waste disaster?

For decades, large red-hot furnaces cooked the lead from smashed batteries at the Exide plant, just seven miles from Downtown Los Angeles, spouting plumes of toxic air that settled on and contaminated thousands of homes. … In the years since, the facility has been cited repeatedly for serious compliance problems. According to a former DTSC senior scientist’s review of public records, at least four are responsible for soil and groundwater contamination that the department has or should have known about for years or even decades. 

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Opinion: Water diversion for Napa County vineyards harm Napa city residents

Among the nearly one hundred development projects pending on the county of Napa Current Projects website comes a sleeper of a project likely to go unnoticed by Napa city residents and businesses who will be most negatively impacted. The remote vineyard development project, proposed deep in the headwaters above Lake Hennessey, seeks to clear 156.8 acres of existing vegetation including oak woodlands, foothill pine communities, and grasslands in order to construct a vineyard in the Conn Creek/Lake Hennessey watershed. 
-Written by Kellie Anderson, resident of Angwin.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Putting farmland out to pasture not an easy task

Not all farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will survive in a post-SGMA world. Estimates are that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will force between 500,000 to one million acres of land that’s currently farmed to be taken out of production to save groundwater. Which lands and what will become of those lands are major question marks at this point. If Gov. Newsom’s revised budget is approved as is, those questions could have an extra $500 million to help find answers.

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Aquafornia news Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Blog: GSAs shooting 50% on GSPs—DWR releases first GSP assessment results for high priority basins

The wait is over for some Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs). The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the first Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) assessments for four basins yesterday, June 3, 2021. DWR approved the 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Salinas Valley and the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin. DWR determined both GSPs “satisf[y] the objectives of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and substantially compl[y] with the GSP Regulations.” 

Aquafornia news Popular Science

Worsening droughts could increase arsenic in well water

Recent research from the US Geological Survey (USGS) suggests that droughts, particularly the prolonged kind happening in parts of the US, could increase the risk of harmful arsenic exposure for people that rely on well water. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the baseline quality of your drinking water may have been set in stone, literally. Arsenic is a common groundwater contaminant, largely because of local geology. In Maine, for instance, the formation of the Appalachian Mountains and volcanic activity came together to concentrate arsenic and other metals into cracks inside the bedrock…

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR releases first assessments of initial Groundwater Sustainability Plans

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).   DWR has completed its assessment and approved plans for the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County.

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County sued over care of Napa River

Water Audit California is suing to make Napa County increase oversight of groundwater pumping for vineyards, wineries, and other uses, claiming that the pumping affects the Napa River. The lawsuit said the county has a “public trust” duty to care for the river. The idea is that too much groundwater pumping from wells can keep groundwater from seeping into the river during dry months, to the detriment of fish and other aquatic life.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Search for groundwater gets high-tech boost

Groundwater is one of the hottest ticket items in California’s water world these days. But much about it is a mystery. Where is it? How does it move? Which are the best spots to percolate water into the ground for storage? At least two technologies hope to answer some of those questions: airborne electromagnetic surveys and interferometric synthetic aperture radar. That’s AEM and InSAR for short.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Mega-dairies, disappearing wells, and Arizona’s deepening water crisis

Cynthia Beltran moved to Sunizona with her seven-year-old son last autumn even though the area lacks functional drinking water wells, because it was all she could afford. She cannot afford the $15,000 cost of deepening her well, which dried up last year, and had been paying for a local firm to deliver water in a tanker. But at $100 a week it became too expensive, so now she will be relying on a friend to help her fetch water from her mother’s well. … Nearly 20 wells in Sunizona alone were deepened between 2015 and 2019, after they dried up. 

Aquafornia news KCRA

Farmers facing California drought impacts feel strain of low water supply

California farmers and ranchers are preparing for a difficult growing season as the state faces drought conditions. The California Board of Food and Agriculture met on Tuesday to discuss ways to help farmers and ranchers, as well as to discuss the proposed $5.1 billion included in the governor’s budget to address drought challenges and water infrastructure. After back-to-back dry years, the state’s water supply is strained, forcing farmers like Joe Martinez in Solano County to figure out ways to get the most out of their water.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Stanislaus homes with tainted wells start getting free bottled water. How to qualify

Free bottled water has begun to arrive at homes with nitrate-tainted wells in parts of Stanislaus and Merced counties.  The ambitious effort, funded by farmers and other parties, launched the week of May 10 with free testing of residential wells. Those that exceeded the nitrate threshold can start getting the 5-gallon jugs about 17 to 21 days later. 

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Aquafornia news Zocalo

Opinion: California’s next water war is starting underground, in the Mojave Desert

Can California regions regulate groundwater without destroying their businesses and communities? That’s the question being posed as regions and localities implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law that brought regulation to California’s diminishing groundwater supplies.
–Written by columnist Joe Matthews

Aquafornia news KCRW

Opinion: Joe Mathews on the fight over groundwater rights in the California desert

Can California regulate groundwater without destroying its own communities? That’s the question being posed as regions implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law regulating California’s diminishing groundwater supplies. Groundwater is buried in aquifers, underground spaces between rocks, soils, and sand. Layers of aquifers are called groundwater basins. California has hundreds of them. Eight-five percent of Californians depend on groundwater …

-Written by Joe Mathews, who writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

‘Worse-case’ CAP shortages threaten the Tucson aquifer’s delicate balance

Back in 1977, President Jimmy Carter wanted to put the Central Arizona Project on a hit list of 17 water projects he found too expensive and environmentally destructive. … [N]ow, as CAP’s first water shortages draw near, a more subtle, long-term threat to the Tucson area’s water future is emerging because of climate change.

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Aquafornia news KMPH

Local push to raise levels in two storm water reservoirs

Two large reservoirs in our backyard are capable of holding 40,000 acre feet of water to recharge the underground table. But federal rules prevent them from reaching capacity and it will take an act of Congress to change the rules. Big Dry Creek Reservoir in Clovis and Fancher Creek Reservoir east of Clovis together can hold 40,000 acre feet of storm water. That’s water that can eventually stream into the underground water table. 

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Commission punts NMWD well appeal

The appeal filed by Gordon Bennett of a proposed well outside of Point Reyes Station was rejected on Monday by planning commissioners, who said they did not have the expertise to evaluate it.  Mr. Bennett says he will now appeal the project to the Board of Supervisors, and will keep appealing until someone addresses his concerns about maintaining a minimum flow for endangered coho salmon in Lagunitas Creek. 

Aquafornia news Science Times

California town sinks 2 feet per year; here’s why Corcoran slowly turns into sinkhole

Over the past decade, the farming town of Corcoran, California, has been sinking two feet every year as agriculture firms pump underground water to irrigate crops. The 7.47 square-mile area in California’s San Joaquin Valley has 21,960 people and has sunk 11.5 feet in the last 14 years. According to the USGS California Water Science Center, the sinking is the product of agriculture industries pumping underground water to irrigate their crops for decades. 

Aquafornia news USDA

Blog: ARS scientists tackle California climate woes

A team of USDA agricultural scientists in the Golden State are helping farmers make the most out of a natural resource that is becoming ever more precious – water. California produces two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts and one-third of its vegetables, but above average temperatures and long-term drought have put a strain on the water resources it takes to grow these crops. Most of California’s precipitation falls during the winter, which means summertime irrigation is required to produce many of the state’s crops. Higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns increase water demand and reduce supply.

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Aquafornia news

As water flowed through the Kern River, court finds Bakersfield violated agreement

Who has the right to water in the Kern River? It has been the subject of fierce legal battles throughout Bakersfield’s history, and on Friday, the Ventura County Superior Court tried to answer a part of that question. In a court ruling, Judge Kevin DeNoce found the city of Bakersfield must supply the North Kern Water Storage District with 20,000 acre feet of water it owed the district in 2020 and pay the district $2.8 million to reimburse groundwater pumping costs the district incurred last year. It’s the latest court decision in a long-running dispute, and it threatens to limit the city’s ability to use water from the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Desert Research Institute

New research: Does cold wildfire smoke contribute to water repellent soils in burned areas?

After a wildfire, soils in burned areas often become water repellent, leading to increased erosion and flooding after rainfall events – a phenomenon that many scientists have attributed to smoke and heat-induced changes in soil chemistry. But this post-fire water repellency may also be caused by wildfire smoke in the absence of heat, according to a new paper from the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Nevada.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought prompts delivery cutback from federal government

California’s water supply got cut again Wednesday, with the federal government reducing allocations to cities and farms as the drought intensified. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that municipal water agencies that rely on the Central Valley Project will have this year’s allocations slashed from 55% down to 25% — a level not seen since the drought of 2015. That could put additional pressure on the municipalities around greater Sacramento that depend on supplies from Folsom Lake, whose water levels have sunk dramatically this spring. The reservoir is at 46% of its usual capacity for late May.

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Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

As sea level rise threat grows, SF officials don’t have public plan to save sewers

Because Bay Area low-lying sewage treatment plants remain vulnerable to rising sea levels, government regulators told sewage facility managers to “provide a written plan for coping with SLR by the fall of 2021 – or they will be given a plan.”  The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit reached out to 10 “at risk” sewage treatment plants to see those plans. All except one provided extensive documents of their proposals, the cost to address them, and even provided tours of completed work. San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission replied to the Investigative Unit’s public records request that after a “diligent search for records…no records were found.”

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Asian cannabis growers in CA face water cuts, sheriff raids

Day after day, sheriff’s deputies drive up and down the road outside Steve Griset’s 600-acre farm, pulling over anyone who appears to be hauling water for the thousands of marijuana greenhouses that have taken over the countryside here. Griset has become a target, even though he grows alfalfa. Last year, investigators with the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office raided Griset’s house with a search warrant looking for his business records, and the DA followed up with a lawsuit in civil court. Griset’s alleged transgressions? He was selling water from his well to his pot-farming neighbors, immigrants of Hmong descent …

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

West Marin water supply project survives challenge

The Marin County Planning Commission voted on Monday to reject an environmental group’s petition to block a West Marin water supply project over potential impacts to Lagunitas Creek flows and endangered wildlife. The decision allows the North Marin Water District to build a new well that it says is necessary to ensure its West Marin customers have adequate water supply in the face of the worsening saltwater contamination at some of its existing wells.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

The sinking Central Valley town

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the farming town of Corcoran has a multimillion-dollar problem. It is almost impossible to see, yet so vast it takes NASA scientists using satellite technology to fully grasp. Corcoran is sinking. Over the past 14 years, the town has sunk as much as 11.5 feet in some places — enough to swallow the entire first floor of a two-story house and to at times make Corcoran one of the fastest-sinking areas in the country, according to experts with the United States Geological Survey.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Some experts welcome alarm bells about Arizona groundwater

Anew report warning Arizona’s urban area aquifers remain at risk from groundwater pumping is drawing praise from several water experts, including some who once worked for the state agency that enforces the law regulating pumping.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Bureau of Reclamation has already studied Mississippi pipeline

The Arizona Legislature wants to look into the feasibility of pumping water from the Mississippi River to Arizona. But the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has already studied the idea, and weighed in on the project in 2012. The agency studied factors such as cost, legal issues, power use and the amount of time the project would take. A report estimated the project could cost up to $14 billion; the timetable was around 30 years. 

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Dollars and drought – Windfalls for innovation or entrenchment?

California’s Governor Newsom recently declared a drought emergency throughout much of California and announced over $5 billion in new water program investments.  These twin emergency and funding announcements are a classic “bad-news creates good news story” (and potentially vice versa) for California’s water problems. They are opportunities for innovation and making long-term improvements for California’s water problems.  They also can reward and entrench less effective programs and approaches.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California must prevent another devastating drought

When Sierra snow seeps into the ground or evaporates before it can flow downstream into reservoirs, you know California is facing a severe drought. It’s happening this spring up and down the mountain range that is a primary water source for the state. Water from snowmelt that hydrologists had expected only a few weeks ago to replenish foothill reservoirs is vanishing. It’s being absorbed by the parched soil or dissipating into the thin mountain air.
-Written by George Skelton, a Los Angeles Times columnist.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

News release: Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District names Kristin Sicke as new general manager

Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce that Kristin Sicke has been selected to become the new general manager of the irrigation district.  The District’s primary mission is to provide surface water for agricultural purposes in western Yolo County, and is integral to monitoring and maintaining sustainable groundwater supplies within the county.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Facing a drought, California’s farmers make hard choices

In wetter times, these feathery beds of asparagus would produce generations of tender green spears, reaching for the vast San Joaquin Valley sky. [Last] Monday they were disked into the dry dirt, their long lives cut short by unreliable and expensive water. … With no guarantee of irrigation water this summer, Del Bosque and other California farmers are making tough choices, sacrificing one crop to save another. The strategy is part of a larger and longer agricultural shift here in the heart of California’s $50 billion agriculture industry: Low-value, high-water crops are disappearing from the Golden State.

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Aquafornia news Growing Produce

How California vegetable growers can adapt to new nitrogen rules

Growers in the Central Coast region of California produce most of the cool-season vegetables for the U.S. from March to mid-November. After several years of multi-cropping vegetables, the groundwater in many of the coastal valleys has become contaminated with nitrate. Some wells have concentrations of nitrate several times the federal drinking water standard of 10 ppm (parts per million) nitrate-N. Rural communities that rely on groundwater as their sole source of drinking water must purchase bottled water or install small reverse osmosis systems.

Aquafornia news Paso Robles Daily News

Water district funding 30 new groundwater level monitoring wells

The Estrella-El Pomar-Creston Water District (EPCWD) has begun creating a groundwater level monitoring network. Initially, the district has begun work to add 30 new groundwater level monitoring sites, using existing wells, throughout the 37,000-acre district. The campaign marks a significant effort in the basin to move toward groundwater sustainability in the Paso Robles Subbasin, according to the EPCWD.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA conference: The decade of water resilience – Developing solutions for our water future

Last week, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) held their spring conference virtually.  Keynote speakers included Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of Natural Resources, and Karla Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources.  In his speech, [Crowfoot] discussed the Newsom Administration’s priorities, calling this the ‘decade of resilience’, and giving three principles for going forward.  He also discussed the Voluntary Agreements.  Director Karla Nemeth gave the Thursday morning keynote speech, touching on the Department’s response to drought, SGMA implementation, the Delta Conveyance Project, and the water use efficiency regulations.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

After years of protests, Crystal Geyser abandons bottling facility plans in Siskiyou County

Crystal Geyser bought the nearly 145,000 square foot bottling plant in 2013. Since then, it’s been the target of protests by local activists and members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Opponents say if it ever started operating, it would draw down too much water, and cause air and noise pollution. … They are in the midst of suing the beverage company in an effort to get a new environmental impact report. 

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Climate change impact increasingly felt in California

More wildfires. Hotter days. Drought. Sea-level rise. Those conditions are an increasing reality in California, which is steadily becoming an altered state. But if the grimmest predictions of experts about our state and climate change become true, the conditions will become far worse.

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Aquafornia news Stanford - Water in the West

New research: New modeling framework guides managed aquifer recharge under climate change

Current and future climate change effects are intensifying the hydrological cycle, leading to increased variability of both precipitation and runoff. This heightened pattern results in more frequent and severe droughts and floods, as well as more recurrent swings between these two extremes. Harvesting floodwaters using managed aquifer recharge to replenish depleted groundwater aquifers can simultaneously reduce flood and drought risks. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Central Valley water districts get OK to sue Dow, Shell over groundwater pollution

A state appeals court has upheld California’s cleanup standards for a cancer-causing chemical that was added to pesticides and has polluted groundwater in the Central Valley, rejecting challenges by manufacturers that may have to pay the costs. The State Water Resources Control Board’s 2017 mandate for removing nearly all TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) from drinking water was contested by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, representing Dow Chemical Co. and Shell Oil, which included the chemical in worm-killing fumigants widely used by farmers through the 1980s. 

Aquafornia news ABC 15

Arizona’s continuing population growth puts pressure on water supply

Millions of people are betting on Arizona. They’re buying homes, starting businesses, and families. The future of how we use our water resources may dictate the future of their success. … That question was addressed four decades earlier with the Groundwater Management Act of 1980. The idea was the law would ensure when water was taken out, just as much was put back in, creating what they called a safe yield goal by 2025. Unfortunately, a new study released by ASU researchers with the Kyl Center shows the law is not living up to its promise as deep, thousands of years old aquifers continue to be over-pumped.

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Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Gov. Newsom’s May budget revision allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil wells

California Governor Gavin Newsom on May 14 unveiled his May budget revision that allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells, many located near low-income residential areas where the majority of residents are Latino and Black. In January 2020, a report by the California Council on Science & Technology revealed that California taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $500 million to plug thousands of “orphan” wells drilled and abandoned by oil and gas companies. .. Plugging all 107,000 oil and wells in California when they become idle would cost more than $9 billion, the report also found.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Construction of eight miles of Pure Water Soquel pipeline to begin May

Construction on 8 miles of water pipeline that will be serve as life-blood for the Pure Water Soquel Project, is set to begin on May 24 in Santa Cruz. Three distinct components of building are set to take place during the next several months. From late May until June 15 crews will work around California Street, from the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility to Laurel Street. After that, and until around July 6, construction will take place on Laurel Street to Chestnut Street. The third scheduled construction phase will run from July 6 through Aug. 12 on Chestnut to the west end of the Laurel Street Bridge.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought?

California — already in the clutches of another drought emergency —  is looking over its shoulder at what happened last time, anticipating the worst and evaluating the strategies that worked and those that failed. So is California in a better position to weather this drought? Some things are worse, some better: Groundwater is still being pumped with no statewide limits, siphoning up drinking water that rural communities rely on. In northern counties, residents are reliving the last disaster as water restrictions kick in again, but in the south, enough water is stored to avoid them for now. … The upshot is California isn’t ready — again.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Water usage down sharply in San Diego, shrinking city’s reliance on expensive imported supplies

San Diego’s vulnerability to water shortages and drought is shrinking significantly because residents and businesses are using less water and city officials are boosting the local supply. A new city analysis shows local water use dropped sharply from 81.5 billion gallons in 2007 to about 57 billion gallons in 2020, even though the city’s population has grown about 1 percent per year over that time. The new data has prompted city officials to revise downward long-term projections of local water use by about 20 percent compared to their estimates from 2015, the last time the city conducted such an analysis. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Environmental testing urged at planned L.A. housing site

Nancy Smith remembered that children had called it “the sick land” — the wedge of property alongside the 110 Freeway where a dry cleaning facility had laundered aprons and uniforms for decades across from a Lincoln Heights elementary school. … Decades after the old Welch’s laundry was shuttered, California regulators worked to clean up the soil and check the groundwater for the chemicals used there — volatile organic compounds such as tetrachloroethylene that could damage the human liver and nervous system and have been tied to an increased risk of cancer. The Department of Toxic Substances Control oversaw a cleanup effort that lasted for years and has continued to monitor groundwater at the site.

Aquafornia news Euronews

Could trading water on the stock market actually be good for the environment?

Last year, for the first time, it became possible to trade water on Wall Street through futures contracts. Normally reserved for commodities like oil or precious metals, water became the latest asset to join the financial market. But how could this practice impact the planet? The trading in the future prices of highly-prized commodities, where buyers agree to purchase an asset at a set date in the future for an agreed price, began in Japan in the seventeenth century with the trading in rice futures. The latest commodity to begin trading in futures is water supplied in American’s most populous state, California.

Aquafornia news PNAS

New research: Core Concept – Often driven by human activity, subsidence is a problem worldwide

Earth’s surface is ever changing. Sinkholes swallow neighborhoods, river deltas slowly slide beneath the waves, and fertile fields lose elevation as farmers draw large amounts of water for irrigation from underlying aquifers. [T]hese phenomena are known as subsidence … Building heavy structures such as homes, skyscrapers, and even entire cities also can trigger subsidence, explains Tom Parsons, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey in Moffett Field, CA. Recently, he used computer simulations to estimate the effect of San Francisco and its metropolitan area—where he and 7.75 million other people reside—on Earth’s crust. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Another record almond crop forecasted by USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is forecasting another record almond crop for California. The 2021 California Almond Subjective Forecast estimates a three percent increase from last year’s 3.12-billion-pound crop. According to USDA-NASS, California growers could be looking at a 2021 crop of 3.2 billion pounds. If that number comes to fruition, it would be the largest almond crop on record. 

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Aquafornia news Sacramento CBS Local

Folsom Lake levels continue to drop amid drought emergency, push for water conservation

Less than a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for Northern California, Folsom Lake is standing at one of its lowest levels ever. … Ryan Ojakian is with the Regional Water Authority (RWA). Now, there’s a push from the RWA for its 20 water providers that serve about 2 million people in the Sacramento region to shift to using more groundwater than surface water to reduce reliance on Folsom Lake and the Lower American River.

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Aquafornia news Corning Observer

County groundwater monitoring station in Corning

A permit has been granted by Tehama County for the establishment of a new groundwater monitoring station located at the Corning Public Works maintenance yard on Gallagher Avenue near Highway 99W. During a presentation on the project to the Tehama County Board of Supervisors, county Public Works Flood Control Manager Ryan Teubert said there will be no cost to the county as the yard is owned by Tehama County, and drilling, installation and construction costs will be paid for, and performed, by the California Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: Report: Drought to hit rural Latino communities hardest

Rural, low-income Latino communities across California were hardest hit by the last drought and could see drinking water shortages again this year as extreme drought spreads across the state, according to a report released Thursday by non-partisan advisors to California’s lawmakers. The report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office warns state officials to prepare by ramping up monitoring of wells in vulnerable communities and lining up emergency drinking water supplies to send there. 

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona is depleting groundwater in many areas, researchers warn

In 1980, Arizona began regulating groundwater in the state’s largest cities and suburbs under a landmark law that called for most of these areas to achieve an overarching goal by 2025: a long-term balance between the amount of water pumped from the ground and the amount seeping back underground to replenish aquifers. Forty-one years later … [g]roundwater is still overpumped in most of the state’s “active-management areas,” or AMAs. And in many places, aquifer levels continue to decline.

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Aquafornia news Sterling Journal-Advocate

Conference to look at beavers for water conservation, drought mitigation

Beavers, known for their work ethic, tenacity and sometimes destructive instincts, are making a comeback in the worlds of science and water as researchers look for natural ways to restore rivers and wetlands and improve the health of drought-stressed aquifers. … This fall, Colorado Headwaters, a nonprofit that advocates for protecting and restoring headwater regions in the state, is sponsoring a beaver summit, a conference designed to unveil some of the latest ecological research on creatures once valued only for their glossy fur.

Aquafornia news Cal Coast News

Lustful eyes cast on Paso Robles Water Basin

On its surface, the idea of banking water to bridge the certainty of future rain-deficient periods seems like an innovative and non-controversial planning procedure. In the end, however, it all depends on who holds the keys to the bank. The notion of water banking has grabbed local attention lately following a controversial and divided 3-2 vote March 3 by San Luis Obispo County supervisors, a vote which numerous North County entities view as opening the door to selling and exporting county water resources to the highest outside bidder.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

USDA projects record California almond crop, but will growers have enough water?

A federal agency Wednesday forecast a record harvest of 3.2 billion pounds of almonds in California. That would be a 3% increase over 2020 for the nuts, the highest-grossing crop in Stanislaus and several other counties. The report will set the tone for the global almond trade, since California accounts for about 80% of the supply. Several thousand people work on farms and in processing plants in the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Cronkite News - Arizona PBS

Researchers spelunk the Grand Canyon to document its beautiful, confounding springs

Ben Tobin has questions about the Grand Canyon’s caves. The University of Kentucky geologist started learning about caves as a young man, in part because his mother was a geologist, and a childhood fascination grew over time. … When he was in college, an internship in Arkansas doing cave tours got him hooked, and eventually his work brought him out West, to Grand Canyon National Park. Tobin specializes in what’s known as karst hydrology. These are underground systems made up of soluble rock such as limestone. To Tobin, caves are like another world, with blind animals, fossils and archeological finds. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a redo

When Sandra Chavez’ mother discovered she had stage four cancer last year, one of Sandra’s first thoughts was about their water. Her family’s private well is contaminated with nitrates and Chavez wondered if years of drinking the water could have caused her mother’s sickness. Chavez and her family have relied on bottled water since they found out their well water was unsafe in 2015. But sometimes they don’t have enough and are forced to drink the contaminated water. So when Chavez found out about a new program providing free bottled water delivery for families with nitrate-contaminated wells, she was frustrated she hadn’t been contacted.